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some ambiguity in the external evidence. Marcion, a heretic of the second century, as quoted by Tertullion, a father in the beginning of the third, calls it the epistle to the Laodiceans. From what we know of Marcion, his judgment is little to be relied upon; nor is it perfectly clear that Marcion was rightly understood by Tertullion. If, however, Marcion be brought to prove that fome copies in his time gave εν Λαοδικεια in the superscription, his testimony, if it be truly interpreted, is not diminished by his heresy ; for, as Grotius observes, “ cur mea “re mentiretur nihil erat cafuæ.” The name ɛv Emeow, in the first verse, upon which word singly depends the proof that the epistle was written to the Ephesians, is not read in all the manuscripts now extant. I admit, however, that the external evidence preponderates with a manifest excess on the side of the received reading. The objection therefore principally arises from the contents of the epistle itself, which, in many respects, militate with the supposition that it was written to the church of Ephesus. According to the history, St. Paul had passed two
whole years at Ephesus, Acts, chap. xix. ver. 10. And in this point, viz. of St. Paul having preached for a considerable length of time at Ephesus, the history is confirmed by the two epistles to the Corinthians, and by the two epistles to Timothy; “ I will tarry “at' Ephesus unto Pentecost,” 1 Cor. ch.xvi. ver. 8. “We would not have you ignorant “ of our trouble which came to us in Afia," 2 Cor. ch. i. ver. 8 : “ As I besought thee “ to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into “ Macedonia,” i Tim. ch. i. ver. 3. “And " in how many things he ministered to me “ at Ephesus thou knowest well,” 2 Tim. ch. i. ver. 18. I adduce these testimonies, because, had it been a competition of credit between the history and the epistle, I should have thought myself bound to have preferred the epistle. Now, every epistle which St. Paul wrote to churches, which he himself had founded, or which he had visited, abounds with references, and appeals to what had passed during the time that he was prefent amongst them; whereas there is not a text in the epistle to the Ephesians, from which we can collect that he had ever been
at Ephesus at all. The two epistles to the Corinthians, the epistle to the Galatians, the epistle to the Philippians, and the two epistles to the Thessalonians, are of this class ; and they are full of allusions to the apostle's history, his reception, and his conduct, whilst amongst them; the total want of which, in the epistle before us, is very difficult to account for, if it was in truth written to the church of Ephesus, in which city he had resided for so long a time. This is the first and strongest objection. But farther, the epistle to the Colossians was addressed to a church, in which St. Paul had never been. This we infer from the first verse of the fecond chapter : : “ Fo: I would that ye knew “ what great conflict I have for you and for " them at Laodicea, and for as many as have “ not seen my face in the flesh.” There could be no propriety in thus joining the Colossians and Laodiceans with those " who “ had not seen his face in the flesh,” if they did not also belong to the same description *
* Dr. Lardner contends against the validity of this conclusion; but, I think, without success. LARDNER, Vol. XIV. p.473, edit. 1757.
Now, his address to the Colossians, whom he had not visited, is precisely the same as his address to the Christians, to whom he wrote in the epistle, which we are now considering: “ We give thanks to God and the “ Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying “always for you, fince we heard of your faith • in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye 166 have to all the saints,” Col. ch. i. ver. 3. Thus he speaks to the Colossians, in the epistle before us, as follows: “Wherefore I “ also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord
Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease “ not to give thanks for you my prayers,” chap. i. ver. 15. The terms of this address are observable. The words “ having heard of your faith and love,” are the very words, we see, which he uses towards strangers ; and it is not probable that he should employ the same in accosting a church in which he had long exercised his ministry, and whose “ faith and love” he must have personally known*. The epistle to the Romans was
* Mr. Locke endeavours to avoid this difficulty, by explaining “ their faith, of which St. Paul had heard,"
written before St. Paul had been at Rome; and his address to them runs in the same strain with that just now quoted : “I thank
my God, through Jesus Christ, for you “ all, that your faith is spoken of throughout “ the whole world.” Rom. chap. i. ver. 8. Let us now see what was the form in which our apostle was accustomed to introduce his epistles, when he wrote to those with whom he was already acquainted. To the Corinthians it was this: “ I thank my God always on your behalf, for the
of God “ which is given you by Christ Jesus," 1 Cor. ch. i. ver. 4.
To the Philippians: “ I thank
upon every remembrance you,” Phil. ch. i, ver. 3. To the Thessalonians: “We give thanks to God always “ for you all, making mention of
to mean the steadfastness of their persuasion that they ware called into the kingdom of God, without subjection to the Mofaic institution. But this interpretation seems to me extremely hard; for, in the manner in which faith is here joined with love, in the expression, “ your faith and love,” it could not be meant to denote any particular tenet which distinguished one set of Christians from othes; forasmuch as the expression describes the genesal virtues of the Christian profession. Vide Locke in loc. R 4